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‘Open to work’ digital candidates: a unique opportunity

Some of those individuals ‘open to work’ are amongst the most talented and exciting out there. Candidates not just in the UK, it’s Asia, Europe and the US.

We’re currently experiencing a unique opportunity for digital talent scouting where I believe companies that make bold hiring decisions are ultimately going to be rewarded.

Let me provide some substance to this.

Firstly, one thing that may surprise is that having ‘digital’ on your CV doesn’t save all candidates from the economic impact of COVID. Despite the digital investments happening in virtually every sector for all the reasons we know about, this pandemic hasn’t served up a level playing field, and companies are being forced to cut across the board.

I’m encouraging companies to ‘bite the bullet’ with hiring decisions when they might be sitting on the fence in the current climate. My counsel is that the picture of available digital talent which presents itself now could be vastly different in 6-9 months. And I’ll make my spirited argument by highlighting four broad categories that candidates fall into:

• Out of work, actively looking – some outstanding candidates have been the victim of company cost-cutting. I’m seeing many simply in the wrong industry sectors at the wrong time – so it’s often not to do with performance.

• In work, actively looking – job insecurity prevails here, and in more normal times, this wouldn’t be as sizeable a category that organisations could access. So it represents another good prospect for companies.

• In work, passively looking: some more risk-tolerant candidates will be open to moves regardless of the business climate.

• Not looking: more risk-averse candidates who want to wait or those on a stable career trajectory. Quite possibly in an industry that isn’t as severely afflicted by or is even benefiting from COVID.

Whilst all these categories exist to varying degrees in any market, there is a far greater supply in categories 1 & 2 than I have seen in a decade.

I’m experiencing this at first hand with UK talent I have engaged on a freelance basis. It’s been incredibly strong, far exceeding my expectations. People that had secure, permanent roles going into 2020 and are now having to be enterprising.

Now, companies know their business best and also when it’s the right time to go out to market.

Whilst a long-term solution to COVID still feels like it’s six months away, despite the positive headlines about possible vaccines, the more active candidates are gradually going to be picked off by forward-thinking leaders. And opportunities to access such incredibly strong talent will likely not present itself again for many years to come.

These are my views. But what do you think?


About BartonRock: We are the executive search partner for companies where data-driven digital leadership is intrinsic to growth.

We manage the careers of leaders whose know-how and commercial acumen within digital steers the strategic direction and future survival of companies.

Our assignments search for executives who understand how to implement and lead data-centric digital agendas.

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You can also subscribe to BartonRock’s Digital Careers podcast by visiting Apple Podcasts


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